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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt

I am a maker of lists. I swear by them. I used to buy notebooks, 5 Star. I liked the fact that the pages were perforated, so you could rip them out without getting the binder holes. I would buy the medium size 5 subject notebook. It was small enough that I could carry it in my backpack. Plus, it came with a nylon cover that would Velcro shut. I would have a list for each division: books, toys, comics, trading cards and movies or CD's. Can't remember the last category.

Anyway, when that proved to be too cumbersome, I started making lists on post it pads, but that was too difficult to keep track of. I then started making lists on EXCEL, which I still use today. I breathe EXCEL, but I am a business analyst, so I work from EXCEL daily anyway. EXCEL has been the norm and still is, but I have two new weapons in my arsenal of list making tools; one, the notepad function on my iPhone and two, an amazing feature on my work computer called "Sticky Notes". Yes, that's right. It's a virtual sticky note pad that never runs out. How awesome is that??? I never use scrap paper at work anymore and barely use a pen.

Although, I am going through my iPod in alphabetical order by artist as my iTunes library has gotten too big for my iPod and I have to weed out the stuff to take off the device. I'm up to J.  I write down the artists I need to uncheck in my library on sticky pads.

What are we here for? Oh yeah, Of course, the most exciting thing about lists is adding things which can then be crossed off once completed. It makes me feel like I actually take care of stuff. I'm just saying. Don't underestimate the power of the list.

Book Description (From Goodreads):
When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in 1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars). The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous
But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.

My Review:
Mallory is quirky. She has things. She seems to try them on as if she is feeling herself out, see if the things fit, like an 80's phase and forties military. But nothing seems to stick. She spends most of her time with her boyfriend, Jeremy, and while over at his house to help him do a paper, she discovers he's been cyber cheating on her on a sim type game called "Authentic Life". So, she walks out on him, walks out on technology and walks back into the 20th century, 1962 to be exact.

Mallory's grandmother has moved into a senior community, so she and Storage Wars / antique dealer dad are cleaning out her grandmother's house, to save what is sentimental, sell what is valuable and throw out the junk. Mallory finds a notebook of her grandmother's filled with lists, finding one in particular that really hits home: Junior Year Back-to-School Resolutions. Mallory latches onto the idea of that list and decides to overhaul her life using the list as gospel.

Item one is to run for Pep Club secretary. Trouble is, the school doesn't have a pep club. So she has to try to start one up just so she can be secretary. The petition for pep club needs to be brought before Student Council and approved, but they don't seem too keen on the idea. Enter Jeremy's cousin, Oliver, who is on the Student Council. He manipulates the council members in such a way that the resolution to create a pep club is passed. The only trouble is Oliver wants to be VP. Mallory is a little uncomfortable around Oliver because he is her ex's cousin, but she really can't refuse. Pep club is open to anyone who wants to join. His motivation is activities for his college transcripts, so she figures, why not make him president, but she appoints herself secretary, just as it is on the list.

I really enjoyed the book and I looooved, Oliver. If you ever tell anyone I said that, I'll deny it. Not a very swoon worthy name, but he is swoon worthy, believe me. Does he have an ulterior motive for helping Mallory out and for joining pep club?

I liked Mallory a lot too. She seemed lost, like she was floundering and she reached out to her grandmother's list like a life preserver. She was hurting over her break up with Jeremy and needed some way to make it all better. Technology was the instrument of her current state of misery, so she would give it all up. She would live a simpler life, like they did back in 1962, when people went steady and went to mom & pop soda shops and wore saddle shoes. The trouble is that nothing is as perfect as we make it out to be. Over time, we forget the bad parts and remember only the good parts, romanticizing the past. Things were not easy back then either, but Mallory doesn't even see that.

The other issue I had was that the list was absolute. She imagined her grandmother was happy as a 16 year old, the same age as Mallory is now, back in 1962. Her grandmother was happy, obviously, because she followed the list. It was too rigid. Her grandmother wanted to be secretary of the pep club, so Mallory had to be as well. She could not accept any other position. So, when Oliver referred to her as the president, she said, oh no, she had to be secretary. When she thought she was in danger of not being able to accomplish something on the list, her reaction was not 4 out of 5 isn't bad. Her reaction was that if she couldn't do all 5 exactly, there was no point in doing any of them and then how could she get over Jeremy?

One last issue I had was that Mallory was oblivious to everyone around her. She needed information on what it was like in 1962. It couldn't be around 1962, it had to be exactly 1962 because that's when her grandmother was a 16 year old junior. Anyway, she kept trying to ask her grandmother questions about her high school days, glorifying the past, but her grandmother didn't really want to talk about it. So she would push and pry and try to force answers out of her grandmother that she didn't really want to talk about. And Mallory's reaction to her grandmother being tight lipped was that her grandmother didn't really seem to care or want to spend time with her and why wouldn't she just tell Mallory what she wanted to know?

She decided to follow the list as a way to feel confident and be able to get over Jeremy. She wanted to accomplish the things on the list just so she could check them off in her journey to self-fulfillment, but she didn't really seem to care about the items on the list over much.

I will tell you something I really loved about the book, though. Well first, there are lists all throughout the book. Mallory is constantly making lists about things. For instance, The things a random passerby at Orange Park High thinks of a teenage girl who supposedly hacked into her boyfriend's Friendspace account, proclaimed him a tool, and abandoned all technology, thus allowing an entire weekend of Internet rumors to breed. I kid you not. It is the Chapter 5 list.

But one thing I really love is the realization, or perhaps fear, Mallory has when she realizes that she doesn't have a thing. Her thing was spending time with her boyfriend. Now that they are over, what thing does she have? What defines her? What I really loved was watching Mallory test the waters in an attempt to find the thing or those things that define her as a person in her own right and not as half of a couple. She wants to be more than some guy's girlfriend. She wants to be independent and respect herself. She wants to feel confident and to get over the break-up. I really respect that and I love the lists she starts making when she is adding things on to who she is.

I also loved Lindsey Leavitt's prior book, Sean Griswald's Head. Going Vintage didn't disappoint, but I was frustrated with Mallory's single minded determination and her rigidity over the items on the list. Still, don't let that stop you from giving it a read. I look forward to Lindsey Leavitt's next book.


  1. That sounds so cool! Makes me wish I had known my grannie better.

    1. I was fortunate enough to have my grandmother around for most of my adult life. She didn't go around making lists, though, but she was one wacky lady.

  2. Hearing lots of good things about this book, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Great retro cover, I remember a carpet like this one from my childhood - same pattern but green.

    1. It was definitely enjoyable. I could relate a bit. As I said, I do love making lists and I went through a whole 60's obsession, but that was in the 70's. It was weird reading about Mallory talking about her grandmother as a 16 year old in 1962. She's not that much older than me. And I was thinking, yeah, that's so old.
      I still love the 60's, though. Maybe it was the perceived innocence of the time.

  3. Love those lists! Only trouble is that I keep adding to them, but don't cross that many things off. Sounds like a fun read, but too bad Mallory was so rigid about everything.

    1. I did it again!!! What is wrong with me?????
      See my response below cleverly disguised as a comment.

    2. And that's why I need all the help I can get.

  4. I couldn't sleep last night, so I ended up making lists on my phone.
    On one of the lists, I can already cross off two items. Things to Do, you know.
    What is the point of list making if you can't ever cross anything off? Well, my last task on that list is to register for the Bloggers Convention.
    I need all the help and inspiration I can get.
    Have I ordered business cards yet? No!!!!!!!
    I didn't want to register until I found about the strike, but it looks like a contract will be signed without things coming to that.
    Still it was an enjoyable read.